Do you want to find acting jobs and become and actor? You often find yourself acting along to the scenes from your favorite movies, or daydreaming about accepting an Oscar or Tony for your big role? It’s possible to make it more than a dream. Although the acting field is highly competitive and there are many people with the same dream, you can take concrete steps to make yourself stand out from the crowd. Whether your dream is acting in movies, television, commercials, or stage, the path is there.
You’ll start at the bottom, but so did all the greats. What sets them apart from all the other dreamers, and what will set you apart too, is how prepared you are as you begin your journey. Here at actorscareerguide.com, we’ve put this guide together to help you navigate the tricky world of acting jobs and ensure you’ve got an edge on the competition. Below, you’ll find tips on how to prepare before launching your search, how to prepare for your first auditions, and how to land those first acting jobs that will set you on the first steps to stardom.
SO YOU WANT TO BE AN ACTOR?
The journey to becoming an actor starts long before you go on your first audition. To be a great actor, you need to know about acting. This means studying the greats, deciding what kind of actor you want to be, and knowing your approach to breaking into the business. Here are the key things you can do to give yourself an edge before you book your first audition.
READ BOOKS ABOUT ACTING
Many actors and acting teachers have written invaluable guides for their profession. You’ll learn techniques and methods, helpful tips for auditions, and the best ways to break into the industry. Some of the most famous books on the industry include Sanford Meisner on Acting by Sanford Meisner and Dennis Longwell, and The Art of Acting by Stella Adler.
LEARN FROM THE GREATS
There’s no better way to prepare for your own acting career than to look at the work of the greats who have come before. Classic films and television series serve as a master class on actor’s instinct, character development, interacting with scenery, and rapport between costars. While acting class has a lot to offer aspiring actors, not everyone has the budget. It is possible to teach yourself using the greatest professionals as a guide.
BE REALISTIC ABOUT YOUR SCHEDULE AND FINANCES
Acting is one of the most time-consuming professions out there, especially when you’re just starting out. You must commit if you want to have a chance at breaking in, and it’s especially difficult if you’re trying to balance acting work with a traditional job with demanding hours. If you’ve committed to pursuing acting, you may want to ask for fewer hours or switch to a less demanding job. Many aspiring actors work in the restaurant industry, due to its greater flexibility for switching shifts when an audition comes up. You should also make sure you have enough money saved up to do this, so it is wise to make the decision to pursue acting before actually doing it – take the time to build up a nest egg first.
NETWORK AND LEARN
Now is the time to find acting classes and workshops. These are useful for honing your craft and getting advice from experienced actors, but they also have the benefit of introducing you to other aspiring actors. This is essential because networking is the best way to find out about potential opportunities. Not every actor is searching for the same opportunities and making these connections will help you when they pass the ones that aren’t right for them on to you.
CHOOSE YOUR FOCUS
Before heading out into the world of auditions, you need to decide exactly what kind of acting work you’re looking for. There are four main concentrations – filmed dramatic acting (film, prime-time and daytime television); TV hosting; commercials; and live theater. Each will have its own set of auditions and requirements, but the tips before and after this segment will help you find your footing in all four.
HOW TO PREPARE TO FIND ACTING JOBS
Now you’re almost ready to head out on your first auditions. The key to making a good first impression is to be prepared, and there are a few essential materials you’ll need to grab the attention of the director – or sometimes, to get past the front door. Follow these tips, and you’ll already have a leg up on much of your competition.
PROFESSIONAL QUALITY HEAD SHOTS
Casting directors use head shots to get a basic idea of your appearance and personality and often ask for them before letting you audition. These are the most important photos you’ll ever take as an actor, so it is important to get them professionally taken. The cost of a professional photo shoot varies widely – as little as $50 to $1000 – so make sure to get advice from your fellow actors.
FILL OUT YOUR ACTING RESUME
Like any other job, a potential boss will want to see your resume. It needs to be professional and error-free, and should include your basic measurements and any relevant work, training, or skills (including any foreign languages you speak). You should include contact information, any acting organizations you belong to, and a professional statement about the type of work you’re seeking.
WRITE YOUR COVER LETTER
This is how you make yourself stand out from the crowd by conveying a professional tone and establishing a personal connection. You should send a cover letter to the acting jobs you audition for, personalized to the role you’re seeking. Start with a greeting and explain your interest before talking about your education and goals. Highlight the strengths in your background and thank them in advance for their interest in you.
FILL YOUR PORTFOLIO
This is your one-stop shop for everything you need when going out for acting jobs. Held in a binder or folder, it should include your head shots, acting resume, cover letter, and business cards if you have them. If you have previous acting work recorded, keep a digital file stored here so you can show it if asked. All of this should also be backed up on a digital portfolio so you can e-mail it if asked.
BEGINNING STEPS TO FINDING WORK
Now you’re ready to take auditions to find your first professional acting jobs. Every audition is different, but the following tips will give you an edge over the competition regardless of the requirements.
GET AN ACTING AGENT
The highest-profile acting jobs are almost always filled through an agent. These professionals specialize in using their contacts to refer actors to casting directors. They have inside information that can help you learn from failed auditions and pick the right jobs for you. You should look for a franchised SAG agent as they have the most connections. You can learn about the best agents online and from fellow actors. A legitimate agent will never ask you for an up-front fee.
NO AGENT? NO PROBLEM!
Not every aspiring actor can find an agent right away as the field is very competitive. Many agents will want someone with professional experience. The best way to get it is to check city websites in your area for acting jobs and casting calls. Many major films and TV shows have open calls for extras, which is a great way to get your first credited work. Beware of scam sites – audition websites that want you to pay to set up an account should be avoided.
BE PREPARED AND PROFESSIONAL
When you go to an audition, the most important thing is to make a good first impression. Acting jobs will almost always have a large group of people seeking the same job. You can make yourself stand out in two ways – memorize the script, and display good manners and professional behavior. Memorizing the script in advance will show the casting director that you will put in the work, and being courteous and professional will let them know you’ll be easy to work with on set.
BE READY TO RELOCATE
While there will be acting opportunities where you live, they may be much more limited if you’re not in an acting hub. Los Angeles, Hollywood, and New York have the biggest pool as they are the hubs for movies, television, and Broadway, but they are also the most competitive. Chicago, New Mexico, Florida, Portland, and New Orleans have developed a growing acting scene in recent years. Another opportunity is the growing market of live entertainment aboard cruise ships.
KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR SCAMS
There are many unsavory elements that try to take advantage of aspiring actors looking for acting jobs. Among the most common scams to watch out for are advertised auditions on the radio or in the newspaper, websites that charge money to audition, or talent agencies that charge fees for pictures. These are all common traps to take advantage of struggling actors, and they rarely lead to legitimate jobs.
EXPERIENCE, EXPERIENCE, EXPERIENCE
The most important thing to remember is that no job is too small. Every legitimate acting job you can put on your resume makes it easier to get the next one. Every step forward is another step towards your dream of bigger, better-acting jobs.
Breaking into acting isn’t easy, especially as the field becomes more competitive every year. You are already ahead of much of your competition because you are now armed with the practical knowledge of exactly what casting directors want. Follow these simple tips and acting jobs will be easier to get than ever before. You’ve taken the first step that will end with you on the big stage of your dreams.